I'll try to get another post up before We head out of town. But just in case I don't, it will be Monday the 27th before I'll be back online. Hope everyone has a good weekend.
Kiss of the Phantom
Signet, Jun 2009, $6.99
In Germany, Australian treasure hunter Mariah Hunter gets to the artifact before her top rival, her former lover Ben Rousseau. He warns her that the hidden stone she has found is cursed, but she assumes he is pulling a ruse to steal the find from her.
When she touches the stone, she is shocked. Her caress releases Rafe Forsyth from his rock imprisonment; he and his brothers were incarcerated inside of stone by dark mage Rogan. Needing to provide priceless coins to a dangerous collector she foolishly agreed to work for, Mariah makes a deal with Rafe. She will help him get fully freed from his imprisonment and not just his current nocturnal liberty if in return he helps her find valuable loot to pay her debt. Besides her treacherous client, neither is aware of an enemy of Rafe coming to kill both of them.
The third Phantom urban romantic fantasy (see PHANTOM’S TOUCH and PHANTOM PLEASURES) is an engaging tale due to the lead female, a gender bending rogue who at a minimum stretches the boundaries of the law and ethics. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Mariah touches the prison stone and never slows as she and Rafe take the audience on a series of misadventures as love may not be enough to set him free.
The Affinity Bridge
Tor, Jul 2009, $24.95
In 1901 London, automatons have taken over most of the manual labor replacing humans. In that environs British Museum anthropologist Sir Maurice Newbury and his assistant Miss Veronica Hobbes investigate the crash of a zeppelin piloted by a cyborg in which pilot error is statistically impossible yet in this case somehow appears plausible.
At the same time, a plague is spreading throughout the city’s poorest sectors turning people into zombies. These revenants pose a major threat of destroying the British Empire from within. An expert on the occult, Maurice with Veronica’s able help connects the two incidents in between Earl Grey time.
THE AFFINITY BRIDGE is an odd alternate earth historical thriller that combines elements of horror, science fiction and mystery in a London at the start of the twentieth century filled with robot and zombies; yet in some ways sort of remains the same as our earth as there is always time for a bit of tea. That combination adds some realism to the story line, but tea for two is fun for the participants however can be tedious to the reader. Still filled with plenty of blood, the occult and automatons, George Mann provides his audience with overall an enjoyable tale of a London out of control except for the tea time outs that seem mindful of Holmes-Watson. Harriet Klausner
By Heresies Distressed
Tor, Jul 2009, $27.95
For eight centuries plus on Safehold, the Church of God Awaiting has brutally censored technology. However, recently cybernetic avatar Merlin Athrawes as part of his job to protect the king of Charis introduced technological advances that enabled the island kingdom to accomplish the impossible, defeat the Church.
However, the Church has not run the world with an iron fist for eight hundred years without adapting. Its operatives steal the enemies weapons to mass produce them, encourage quislings to assassinate the adversary’s leadership, and buy mercenaries to massacre rebels and civilians alike. The Kingdom of Charis may find its new freedom not long lasting as the Church of God Awaiting begins a concerted counter insurgency.
The sequel to BY SCHISM RENT ASUNDER, BY HERESIES DISTRESSED is a fantastic science fiction political thriller. The Church demonstrates why it has succeeded for eight centuries with its stealing of the enemy’s war technology as well as the usual stirring up the masses with a minor social issue (straight out of the Republican Party playbook) and supplement that with assassins and terrorists (straight out of the Taliban play book to bring hell on earth). The monarchy and their allies cannot agree on anything except their opposition to the Church (straight out of the Democratic Party’s humongous tent strategy that invites all to join to get elected but fail to agree on solutions). The cast is solid though with the exception of Merlin and to a lesser degree the King of Charis none stand out; this especially enhances the saga as part of the Church’s long term strategy is facelessness except for God as much as possible. David Weber is at his best with this strong profound and relevant look at political plotting. Harriet Klausner